Photography has always been an interest of mine since the later part of high school till now. I saw exhibits of professional photographers’ work, each a snapshot capturing one moment in time so beautifully and poignantly. What I enjoy most about photography is the image’s ability to tell a story. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” best describes a photo’s meaning without having to say anything at all. The mood, lighting, and set up gives the viewer enough to draw their own conclusions about the subject.
During the time I was still in college and I took a bunch of creative writing classes, one of those classes had us find photographs in a museum or magazine we liked and use that photo to write a small vignette about the subject. This particular exercise turned out to be very helpful in my writing process and how I looked at photographs. Maybe the photographer who took the photo at the time already had a clear idea of what their subject was about, but for the rest of us viewing the work, we can interpret it however we want to. Art is all about interpretation anyway. Just because someone says a piece means this, doesn’t mean it has to be. I sometimes go back to this creative writing exercise from time to time when I’m in need of inspiration or I just want to work out those writing muscles.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of taking a photography class to learn the basics a photographer needs to know to take high quality photos. Despite my lack of finesse in the fine art of photo taking, it hasn’t stopped me from taking photos of the world I see outside. Before the ubiquitous feature of having a camera on your phone, I never really took my digital camera around with me when I was on the go. Call it laziness or forgetfulness, but I didn’t have the chance to just snap away when I found something I felt the urge to freeze for all time. Having the convenience of a camera phone has made it easier for anyone to become an amateur photographer.
Often when people snap photos on their camera phone, it’s mainly to take photos of their friends, self-shots, their pets, a fascinating event, or their food. While I have done most of that, except the self-photos or pet shots (since I don’t own a pet), I have used my camera phone to take photos in a more artistic way. At least what I can imagine is artistic. Sometimes I play around with lighting, based on what I have read about photography and lighting on the internet. I also take photos at random to see if I can capture a mood or possibly use the photo at a later date to awaken the writing muse in me.
Camera phones have given people the ability to be their own photographer. It’s convenient and it’s always with you wherever you go. I don’t know if having a camera on your phone is ruining photography in some way, at least if the professionals are lamenting the abundance of amateurs trying to be photographers, but photo taking is always a very personal experience, whether you’re an amateur or not. It’s our own way of telling the stories we want to tell and it’s a tangible memory we can go back and look at whenever we want to.
The following photos are from my own adventures in camera phone photography over the years. Photo quality may be slightly poor with some of these shots, but as smartphones kept improving and updating, the strength of the camera has gotten better as well. When I took some of these, I wasn’t really thinking about lighting and mood. However, when I took a closer look at the end result, I was pleasantly surprised by what I ended up with:
Photography is a creative process and by having fun with it and playing around, the results may surprise you. There’s a lot of beauty to be found right outside your door and stories waiting to be told through a tap of a button. Or maybe you really liked how you looked in that dress the other night and needed to capture it for your own purposes. No matter how you use your camera phone, it’s still a snapshot of a life lived.